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(tagged with 'interruptions')

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  • Jessica Burkhart on , 2/20/2008 4:43:00 PM

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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: interruptions, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. Swimming in a Straight Line

"Well, you never sail a straight line from point A to point B – it’s usually a bit of a zig zag." - Matt Rutherford, sailing solo and non-stop around the Americas (http://www.solotheamericas.org/)How many times have you started out wanting to swim in a straight line, only to find that you’ve veered off course?You sit down at your desk and begin writing, planning to forge ahead with a chapter or

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2. I Heard You!

giveA few weeks ago in “Find a Need and Fill It” I asked for your input concerning the topics you find most helpful in this blog.

Thank you all for the responses! It’s been very helpful. The requests fell into three main categories. Since I blog on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, that made it easy for me. From now on, this will be my general blogging schedule so that I can cover each topic area regularly.

What You Can Expect

Monday = Inner Motivation (includes:)

  • fears–all kinds!
  • discipline
  • focus
  • goals
  • rejection
  • lack of motivation
  • encouragement
  • a writer’s dream life
  • procrastination
  • working with our “inner editor”
  • enjoying writing more
  • perseverance
  • creative inspiration
  • writer’s block

Wednesday = Outer Challenges (includes:)

  • setting boundaries
  • time management
  • distractions
  • discipline
  • writing schedules
  • goal setting
  • balancing writing with chaos in life
  • balancing day jobs with writing
  • our writing needs (vs. “their” needs)
  • self-defeating behaviors

Friday = Tips ‘n’ Tricks of the Trade (includes:)

  • specific genre help
  • writing books I’ve found helpful
  • blogs I find useful
  • classes I’ve taken
  • voice (writer’s and character’s)
  • critique groups
  • conferences
  • working with publishers
  • marketing–all kinds
  • considering the audience when writing
  • dealing with publishers who don’t respond
  • finding good markets
  • developing depth in writing
  • selling “unique” pieces instead of jumping on the bandwagon

Thanks for Your Input

All your feedback has been immensely helpful in organizing future blog posts and making sure I cover topics you want to hear about and find useful. If I missed anything on these lists, feel free to let me know!

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3.

Check Out Chuck's Blog...

Guide to Literary Agents editor Chuck Sambuchino recently posted notes from a conference session he attended with agent Jennifer Laughran of Andrea Brown Literary and author Wendy Lichtman. They offered tips and advice for writing for tweens and teens.

Click here's to check it out.

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4. Writing Through Interruptions

interruptionIn my book Writer’s First Aid, I talk a lot about dealing with interruptions and distractions because I began writing when I had a newborn (ten days old), a todder (two) and a preschooler. If I couldn’t write through interruptions, I couldn’t write at all most days.

People protest all the time that they can’t write with continual interruptions, and I never had much of a response beyond “just do it!” I knew it was possible if they’d really try it. Then recently I heard about someone who’d led a workshop dealing with this very thing–and she taught the participants a valuable lesson.

Start! Stop! Start Again!

The speaker was ostensibly talking about “carving out time to write.” She suddenly stopped and said, “You may choose to write on your current project or a new one, but decide on something, even if it is just an account of your day. Pick up your pencil and paper and write when I say go.”

She timed the group of writers for three minutes and said, “Put your pencils down” and continued her talk for several minutes. She then repeated the interruption and her instructions. They wrote for three more minutes. The speaker interrupted her talk four different times during the hour and had them write.

At the end of her workshop the participants compared notes. They had all written at least one page, many had more, despite being interrupted four times in only twelve minutes of actual writing! Each time they’d been able go back and pick up a thought and continue. The speaker ended with, ”You can revise bad writing, but you cannot revise a blank page. Give yourself permission to write junk, then fix it.”

Change Your Mind

I know this sounds awfully simple, but I encourage you to change your mind about being able to write despite interruptions. So few of us live on a deserted island. Most writers–probably 90% or more–have to deal with distractions and interruptions.

If you need to prove to yourself that you can get back to your writing after an interruption, try that workshop experiment. Either try it alone or with your writing group. See what happens.

It just may turn out that you’ve been believing a lie all this time. Writing may not be as enjoyable when you’re interrupted, but it can be done.

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5. Crossing the Finish Line

you_wonHallelujah! I felt the breeze on my face as I crossed the NaNoWriMo finish line half an hour ago. Getting the words to validate took three tries, but it finally clocked in at 50,093 words. Phew!

It was a good month for writing, but like many of you NaNo writers, it had its bumps and interruptions. In the second week, I had a personal setback and got sick, and by the time I was better, I was nearly 10,000 words behind. It was catch-up the rest of the month.

Challenges

Like you, we had Thanksgiving last week. Although we had five people staying with us for three days, I got up early each day and wrote. “Luckily” I woke up by 4 a.m. each time and was done writing before our guests were up for the day. (And they were so easy to have around–that made a huge difference.)

The only real glitch came on Thanksgiving Day. I went to boot up my desktop PC where I prefer to write–and nothing. I stared. I prayed. I looked to see if I’d turned off the power accidentally. I fiddled with it. No luck. It was dead and fried, and a tech person assured me it would cost more to fix than it would to get a new PC.  So I finished NaNo on my laptop, and I have the backache to prove it.

I would never venture to a mall on Black Friday, but we found a great deal on Saturday, so this weekend I also set up the new computer and started learning Windows 7 and the Microsoft 2007 Office programs. Thank heavens for online tutorials!!!!! I’m sure I’ll love it in a couple weeks, but right now it’s like playing hide ‘n’ seek. (My favorite commands are hiding and I’m seeking.)

Flexibility Required!

This month, in order to write NaNoWriMo’s 50,000+ words, I typed in my office, in the car, in the living room, in my closet, in bed, in the library, at nano_09_winner_100x100my granddaughter’s house, and once in a coffee shop, just for fun. The name of the game is flexibility. My novel isn’t quite finished, but I will continue to work on it at a slower pace until the rough draft is done.

How did you other NaNoWriMo writers end up? How was your experience? Are you glad you did it? Will you do anything differently next year? I know you still have twelve hours to write, but after you finish, share! Share!

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6. Writers: Always Working

thinkingIf you’re a plumber hired to unclog my drain, but I catch you sitting and looking out the window, I can, in all fairness, say you’re not working. If you’re my cleaning lady, but I catch you rocking in a chair staring into space, I can say justly that you’re not working.

What about writers? Not so easy to tell!

Thinking vs. Writing

According to Wallace Stevens, “It is not always easy to tell the difference between thinking and looking out the window.” It’s also not always easy to tell the difference between thinking and going for a walk, between thinking and washing dishes, between thinking and daydreaming, and between thinking and grazing in the fridge.

Why is this true? Lots of thinking precedes writing. For fiction writers, thinking about characters, getting to know them, listening to their voices-all this happens in the head while “thinking.” Plot twists and turns give birth while “thinking”-and woe unto the writer who skips thinking and writes the first thing that comes into her head.

Although all this pre-thinking is critical, that isn’t all the thinking you’ll have to do. Even while working on revisions, you’ll find yourself thinking and staring out the window, thinking and walking, thinking and grazing. You understand that “I’m thinking” means ”so please don’t interrupt.” Chances are, your family won’t. Instead they will walk into the room where you’re “thinking-writing” and say, “Oh good, you’re not doing anything. Can you hold the ladder for me?”

Thinking in Disguise

That’s why I prefer to do my thinking in private if I can. Otherwise it just seems to invite interruptions, often at a critical moment when I’ve just about figured out my theme or where the climax scene needs to go.

If I’m home alone, that’s no problem. If it’s in the evening, though, or on a weekend, I weed flowers or fold a load of laundry or wash dishes when I need to think something through. (Nobody bothers you when doing chores-they might get roped into helping.)

Reap the Rewards

Contrary to the life of a plumber or housekeeper, a lot of the writer’s real work happens when she’s looking out the window. Sometimes my clearest thoughts, my best insights for how to fix things, come when I’m not thinking about the piece of writing at all.

Give yourself enough of this “mindless” time, and you’ll be amazed what bubbles up to your conscious mind. Despite the heckling you may receive, during this thinking time you’re a writer at work. And the pay-off will be huge.

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